Western governments are trying to blackmail Russia into supporting their interpretation of the Syrian resolution, said Russia’s Foreign Minister. They have threatened to end the UN observer mission if an agreement is not reached.
“If our western partners do not recognize the fact that if they block our resolution to the conflict then the UN observer mission will have to withdraw from Syria, it will be regrettable indeed,” said Minister Lavrov.
He added that Russia gives its full support to Kofi Annan’s peace plan, but some western powers have distorted the document’s meaning to push for the removal of President Bashar Assad. The resolution reached in New York does in no way stipulate the ouster of Assad, said Lavrov.
The head of the Russian Foreign Office said that some Western countries twisted the wording of the Geneva agreement to open the door to sanctions against Syria. “Either our international partners were dishonest in Geneva, or they are just incapable of coming to a mutual agreement.”
“Blaming China and Russia for the prolongation of the Syrian conflict, not to mention that ‘they will pay for it’ completely oversteps the mark,” stressed Lavrov, citing Hillary Clinton’s speech at a Friend’s of Syria meeting in Paris on July 6.
Russia has been accused of bias towards President Assad’s regime after blocking previous Security Council resolutions on the basis they were unbalanced. Lavrov emphasized that Moscow does not take sides in the conflict and its only interest is to bring an end to the bloodshed.
Referencing the consistent refusal of Syrian opposition to open negotiations with Damascus, Lavrov said that those nations who have influence over the opposition should pressure for a single representative to be assigned in order to open political dialogue.
“Trying to persuade Assad to leave office is unrealistic. Assad will not step down, not because of Russia, but because he is supported by a significant part of the country’s population,” stressed Lavrov. He leveled criticism at Western nations for refusing diplomatic negotiations with President Assad.
“Some of our Western partners called for the resolution to stipulate an economic and communications block be imposed on the Syrian government,” Lavrov said. This was not stipulated in the Geneva agreement and would quicken Syria’s descent into civil war, added.
Russia has urged its Western partners to get behind Kofi Annan’s plan to end the Syrian conflict as it is the only way to halt the violence.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a press conference in Moscow, on July 16, 2012 (RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov)